Local Indian residents continue discussions with Madison City leaders

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MADISON, Ala. (WHNT) - The local Indian community continues to come together in the wake of an incident involving Madison Police and an unarmed Indian man.

A small group met with Madison Mayor Troy Trulock and Police Chief Larry Muncey on Monday to submit ideas to help improve community relations.

Pooja Moondra was one of the roughly 25 Madison residents in attendance. She said that while she understands that Officer Eric Parker's treatment of Sureshbhal Patel is an isolated case, it continues to resonate more than a week later.

"It's still in our mind. We wake up and it's still in our mind," said Moondra.

Many residents spoke of their love for the Madison community, but they also agreed more training is needed.  Some suggested training programs for police officers that would focus on their interactions with senior citizens and those with language barriers.

The Madison Police Department had already scheduled a cultural understanding workshop prior to the February 6th incident. It is scheduled for February 25th and the community group organizing it plans to incorporate some of the forum input into the training.

Others said residents should be proactive in their communities and interact with their neighbors. Ultimately, the hope is that by having more of these programs, it will increase tolerance throughout the community.

"This incident has given us an opportunity to come closer and be more engaged with the police department and with the mayor's office," said Anupreet Singh, President of the Huntsville India Association. "This is a sad incident, but I appreciate the concern showed by all the citizens in coming forward with their ideas. That's a good thing which came out of this."

Moondra added the training should not just be for local law enforcement and dispatchers, but everyone in the community.

"I've been living in the community the last eight years. Everything is nice and smooth, very nice blending with the community. But after this episode, it looks like we need to train everybody," she said.

City leaders were strongly advised not to respond to resident comments because of the ongoing lawsuit.

"Unfortunately, since this is a case involving a lawsuit and litigation, we are restricted from most comments, but Chief Muncey and I are proud to be here with you tonight to listen to you," Mayor Trulock told the residents.

"I can't say that there will never be another unfortunate incident in the City of Madison, but I promise you this, as long as I'm your police chief, it will be done correctly, there will be accountability and it will be transparent," said Chief Muncey.

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